Studies on the adsorption of manganese ions from aqueous solution on carbon obtained from a mixture of biomass products indicate the importance of acidic surface oxides for manganese ion adsorption that is predominantly site specific. The results show that oxygen remaining from the raw material participates in the formation of surface oxides and indicates the possibility of controlling the content of acidic surface sites of the carbon surface by appropriate selection of the precursor composition and surface properties modification. The surface functionalities of oxidized carbon from a mixture of biomass products resembles the behavior of an ion-exchange resin. Oxidized carbon obtained from a 50:50 mixture of tar from steam pyrolysis of apricot stones and furfural contains a balance of surface area and high surface concentration of functional groups favorable for adsorption of positively charged manganese ions. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.